April / May / June 2019.

The East Coast Main Line (ECML) is a 393-mile long (632 km) major railway link between London and Edinburgh via Peterborough, Doncaster,
Wakefield, Leeds,York, Darlington and Newcastle, electrified along the whole route. Services north of Edinburgh to Aberdeen and Inverness use diesel trains.
 The main franchise on the line is operated by Virgin Trains East Coast.

The route forms a key artery on the eastern side of Great Britain and is broadly paralleled by the A1Trunk Road. It links London, the South East and
 East Anglia, with Yorkshire, the North East Regions and Scotland. It also carries key commuter flows for the north side of London.

 It is important to the economic health of several areas of England and Scotland.

 It also handles cross-country, commuter and local passenger services, and carries heavy tonnages of freight traffic.

 Roger Carvell is a rail enthusiast who contributes much of the local content to this website. He lives in Hitchin, on the ECML, but 
on this page he reports on news and movements on this historic line, close to his home and heart.



June 17th 2019.

I took a trip down to Doncaster, or Donny, as it is always known as, on June 1st.
Here are a few pics to show the current scene there.

Brand new Spanish-built CAF Class 331 emus stand nose to nose in Doncaster yard, opposite the station undergoing driver training.
 These new units, of which 43 are to be completed, will gradually replace Northern's existing emus throughout the rest of 2019 on electrified services in
South, West and North Yorkshire and also well into Lancashire to Preston and Blackpool North.
 The trains have been built in Zaragoza, north eastern Spain but others will be built in Wales!
In March 3331111 became the first ever emu to be built in the Principality at CAF's UK plant at Llanwern.
 The order has been split into two batches; 331001 to '031 will be three-car units and 331101 to '012 will be four car.
Max speed 100mph. Of identical design by CAF, the diesel Class 195 version will also go into service with Northern, with
 58 dmus on order, built both in Spain and at Llanwern.
 These trains will eventually replace the existing Pacer and Sprinter dmus, most now well past their 30 years in service.

Train '1D93' the 15.48 King's Cross to Bradford Interchange stands in Doncaster's Platform 4 at 17.37.
The driver, with one foot aboard, is talking to the lady conductor at the rear.
 The Class 180s, of which ten are operated by GC, offer services from both Sunderland and Bradford Interchange to London King's Cross
and are an open-access operator, not subject to franchising.
 Grand Central is owned by Arriva.The smart gloss black and orange-striped dmus have given excellent service this year.
 One Grand Central Class 180 is to be trialled using dual-fuel technology, carrying both diesel
but also liquefied natural gas. All the Class180s built started life with First Great Western.

Known by some as 'dog boxes' or 'tin rockets' by others the single-car Class 153 dmu design dates back to the Provincial Sector of British Rail.
 Although its days are numbered, Northern 153351 is still up to the task of shifting people, seen here, laddering over the ECML in
Doncaster station, en route from Bridlington to Sheffield.

Diesel locomotives were rather scarce on a Saturday afternoon at Doncaster, but 66785 hove into view with an engineering stock move
across the Doncaster area.
It seems like yesterday when the US-built Class 66 first arrived in the UK, but GBRf 66789, nearing 20 years of service, has already been
here since July 1999!

It comes as a surprise to some, still, when they automatically expect their train driver to be male. This King's Cross to Leeds Azuma
service has arrived at Doncaster, right time, and the young lady driver, looking out, is checking the signal aspect and station work.
There are now many more women at the driving controls of the UK's trains, a sign of equal and more enlightened times.

The arrival of the Hitachi-built Azumas for LNER has meant the inevitable withdrawal of the first LNER Mk4 sets from Bounds Green
depot in north London.

 In drizzly weather GBRf 66718 takes the second redundant and off-lease set, north to Worksop for storage.
Some Mk4 sets, reduced in length, are due to transfer to Transport for Wales. Others are planned to run between Euston and
 Blackpool with a new open access operator.

The Class 91 locomotives are separate assets to the Mk4 sets and the first four are expected to be withdrawn in July.
 Identities are known but actual withdrawal of earmarked locomotives will depend on exams due and so on.
 Another batch of 91s are expected to stand down in January. 'Celebrity' BR InterCity liveried 91119 had star billing at
the recent Crewe Open Day.


May 26th 2019.

 ECML steam today, Black Five 44871 has got the fast line to Peterborough, with ‘1Z42’ Finsbury Park to York charter, via Lincoln.
 A view taken at Great Wymondley, between Stevenage and Hitchin. Thanks to Mike Trigg for the photo.


May 25th 2019.

 On Tuesday, May 21st 2019, the Great Northern internet site began mentioning a very early morning ‘6X80’ Dollands Moor to
Merchant Park (Darlington) special working.
 Some folk assumed it would be an Hitachi Class 700 import from Europe. Then an insider in the rail industry put the
 speculation right. A pair of pre-series Scotrail 385 emus, built by Hitachi at Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, were being
 transferred from Hitachi Europe, after internal seat fitment back to Scotrail.

 Scotrail run two versions of the Class 385, in three and four car formations. These two, 385001 and 385102 are seen at
 Sheep Walk foot crossing, near Biggkeswade, 06.50, hauled by a GBRf Class 66.

 Both units had been used for initial testing but had remained unfurnished. Hitachi’ Pistoia factory in Italy had the job of installing seating etc, as
these units could not be integrated back into the production lines at Newton Aycliffe.



May 21st 2019.

 If covered platforms are no more at Llandudno, Lowestoft has none at all now. 37405 (D6982) has arrived with the 14.55 from Norwich.
 Always popular with diesel enthusiasts but they do have to share -and behave- with ordinary travellers.

 There is a quick turnround here and then back to Norwich, the driver walking to the front and boarding 37716. Wednesday, May 15th 2019.



May 21st 2019.

 I was out and about in north London yesterday and ‘caught’ the officially preserved 1938 Northern Line tube train, which
 toured the Piccadilly Line from end to end on Sunday (19/05/2019).
 The Transport for London tour was fully booked and for those with weaker bladders, Oakwood came as a relief as the station has loos!
 I didn’t go on the tour but made sure I was in the right place, out in daylight. I did see chaps with cameras down in the underground stations!
 A driver told me that because it is a tour, the train must proceed through each station at 5 mph and give an approaching whistle.
 The tour, as with all London Transport events was well organised

 Even today parts of the northernmost stretches of the Northern Line were LNER! Even today, stations like High Barnet are ex
 Great Northern.

 During the mid to late 1930s (and to boost employment) the LT people decided on further electrification and took over the former
LNER steam-worked branch and associated lines northwards from Golders Green.
 These would have originally been served by tank engines and coaches from King’s Cross.
 The LNER was glad to give them up as they were losing the battle with local tram and bus competition in the northern suburbs.

 The LNER was the great strategic main line, heading for the north and Scotland and local suburban traffic just got in the way!
 It was the same then, at Euston, and traditionally, it has changed now, it was really only the Southern and the Great Eastern part of
 the LNER which really had commuter traffic in a great way.

 Mind you, the word commuter wasn’t used in the steam era at all. Even today, an old ex-Euston /based pal told me, commuter trains were
 known as the ‘residentials’ from the likes of Northampton.

 That was an LMS term that stuck!

Make sure you are in the right carriage!

 After that trip to Oakwood, first named Enfield West, I went back to King’s Cross and caught the very first LNER ‘Azuma’ service to Leeds!
 I got out at Stevenage but weird to travel in a brand new train.
 Smelt 'plasticy' but that disappeared when the train filled up and the digital seat allocation system broke down! Laugh? I nearly laughed!

First Sunday departure for an Azuma at King’s Cross. Bi mode 800113 stands at Plat 3 with the 13.03 to Leeds. May 19th 2019.
 This is the only LNER Class 800 in service so far.

800113 is the only one in
public service with LNER, working to Leeds and Hull. This is to take over from the hired-in full
 East Midlands HST set that did the
Hull turns up to now.

800113 was on the 13.03 to Leeds on Sunday, May 19th 2019.


May 16th 2019.

Big day for LNER- the first public day of the Class 800 Azuma (Japanese for 'east') services.

Below is 800 102 racing north for the first time with ordinary fare-payers. This is train '1D11' the 11.03 King's Cross to Leeds,
calling at Peterborough, Doncaster, Wakefield Westgate and Leeds, due 13.14 It will then return to London in the
 afternoon and then form the only down LNER service of the day to Hull, using its diesel power, once off the 25kV, heading
 north eastwards from Temple Hirst Junction to Selby and on to Hull.

So, after so many months of testing, the 800s going north, are in service.


May 12th 2019.

Shown below at 17-30 on May 11th 2019 at Biggleswade wind turbine farm, Battle of Britain Flight 91110 races north with
a King’s Cross to Edinburgh express.
 This engine had only the small Virgin logo and it was carefully removed after the franchise collapsed without disturbing the all
 over vinyls, applied under the previous East Coast Trains operator.
 Withdrawal of the first 91s is due in late June as the new Class 800 ‘Azuma’ trains gradually take over.


May 10th 2019.

Below is a photo of me and my wife "Mrs C" at Kings Cross on May 7th 2019, taken by a kind female LNER hostess.

 The power car was 43257, which must be at least 40 years old and worn dozens of liveries.
Notice the vertical servicing tag while stationary - train tanking up!

All LNER HST's must be withdrawn by the end of the year owing to new regulations regarding sliding doors and
 chemical toilet retention tanks. ----- Progress!


May 7th 2019.

The modern way of travelling: on an LNER hst (by default) up to King’s Cross.
 Laptops and the gentleman opposite is talking to someone else!


May 5th 2019.

 On May 4 a railtour ran from London Victoria to Butterley MRC, routed ‘around the chimney pots’ of south London to gain
 the ECML at Harringay, well into north London.

 Here is GBRf 66753 ‘EMD Roberts Road’ at Langford, just south of Biggleswade with a nice rake of chocolate and cream Mk1 stock.

 On the rear is 66719 ‘Metroland’ which would later take the train back to London Victoria from Butterley.
 It was surprising to see this train, mid morning, using the down fast line.
 King’s Cross signallers prefer to keep MK1 charters on the slow lines were possible. May 4, 2019.


May 2nd 2019.

 It isn’t an everyday sight, but Class 91s are sometimes seen on the ECML without their trains.
 Following attention at Doncaster (very shiny black wheel sets and bogie dampers) 91118 ‘The Fusilier’ takes a canter up to
north London and Bounds Green LNER depot.
 The loco is about to pass over the public level crossing (tractors, cyclists, dog walkers and horses) at Sheep Walk , just south
 of Biggleswade, lunchtime, May 1, 2019.


April 23rd 2019.

Below is 60103 Flying Scotsman, on a return move
to York NRM, with a BSK support coach, from Southall, West London.
 The engine
had had a successful short season on the Swanage Railway, leading to
a nice picture feature in the national press.

Here is 60103, about to pass through Sandy station, on the ECML, April 13th 2019. Sandy station, by its geography is very good for head-on
shots, unlike  other localities on the ECML which are difficult or impossible in order to get similar photos while obeying the 'stand
behind the yellow line rule'.

60103 is carrying a wreath on the smokebox door in memory of a Riley's apprentice who passed away recently.
Ian Riley's team, at Bury, had done much
restoration work on Flying Scotsman and the wreath was very appropriate.

Sandy was where the LNER met the LMS, the latter running their Oxford to Cambridge service which crossed over the ECML and ran down into
Sandy station before heading eastwards to Cambridge. Closed in the mid-1960s, after a bitter fight, the section from Bedford to Cambridge
was lifted and land disposed of.

Now the 'East-West Rail Link' seeks to re-establish the abandoned Bedford and Cambridge portion between two premier university cities,
in conjunction with Network Rail.

 A slightly more northerly placing of the new route is planned which might lead to a new Sandy station.

After many local public consultations the project, subject to funding, is likely to proceed. The pressure on more public transport, in the
western part of East Anglia, after much new house building, is very pressing, the 'Cambridge effect' according to locals.